The DNA of a U.S. Air Force airman arrested in connection with a series of sexual assaults in Colorado is a "100 percent match" with DNA evidence from the rape and slaying of a Chevy Chase woman in Philadelphia in 1998, Philadelphia police spokesman Roland Lee said last night.
Cathie Abookire, spokeswoman for Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham, identified the man as Troy Graves, 29, of Fort Collins, Colo. She said the Philadelphia police plan to issue arrest warrants for Graves in the death of Shannon Schieber, 23.
"Even though there is never closure on these types of crimes, there could be a sense of satisfaction that justice could move forward and ultimately prevail," Abookire said.
Graves, who is stationed at F.E. Warren Air Force Base near Cheyenne, Wyo., was arrested in Fort Collins early Tuesday for probable cause for investigation in the sexual assaults there and is being held on $1 million bond, according to the Larimer County district attorney's office. Graves, who formerly lived in Philadelphia, has not been formally charged with any crimes, the district attorney's office said.
DNA evidence from Schieber's slaying and five sexual assaults in an upscale Philadelphia neighborhood previously had been matched to DNA evidence from the Fort Collins cases, authorities said.
A Fort Collins judge issued a gag order Tuesday because of the increasing publicity in the case.
The body of Schieber, a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, was found in her apartment in downtown Philadelphia on May 7, 1998, several hours after police received two calls from neighbors who said they had heard screams.
Fort Collins police said that in the Philadelphia and Fort Collins assaults, the victims were asleep when the suspect entered their residences in the early morning through a window or balcony door; the victims were blindfolded and bound; and the women lived with others but were home alone at the time of the attacks.
"We had been predicting all along, as horrible as it was, that the only way to catch him was if he attacked again," said Sylvester Schieber, Shannon's father, who lives in Chevy Chase. "We for a long time didn't know if he was still alive or whether this was a one-time kind of thing."
In December, Abraham filed a warrant against a "John Doe" in Schieber's slaying and the sexual assault cases, citing the matching DNA evidence in the attacks. Officials were worried that the five-year statute of limitations on rape cases would run out before an arrest was made, Abookire said.
Sylvester Schieber said the quick work of Fort Collins police in alerting residents to a serial rapist was in direct contrast to what happened in the Philadelphia investigation.
In a lawsuit pending in U.S. District Court, the Schieber family has accused Philadelphia police of failing to link sexual assaults in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood and properly warn residents. Four women were assaulted before Schieber was killed, and another woman was attacked a year later.
The Schiebers also contend that police officers' refusal to force entry into their daughter's apartment contributed to her death. Her brother, Sean, and a neighbor found her dead in the apartment the next morning.
Police officials have said they responded properly, and city lawyers are asking an appellate court to dismiss the lawsuit.
Schieber said he would not be satisfied with a conviction in his daughter's slaying.
"We're adamant that one part of the story will not be over -- cleaning up the mess in Philadelphia," he said. "There needs to be some accountability taken."